Chapter 4: Three Ways

Xiao Bei waited for who knew how long, but not a sound came from above. He reckoned Yang Chen had already noticed that he had met with a mishap ,but this hole was too well hidden; Yang Chen might not be able to find it. Rather than sitting here and just waiting, he figured he might as well find ways to save himself. Xiao Bei was someone who didn’t like to accept help from others. Even though he had long been living under the weight of the world, deep in his bones, there was the essence of stubbornness. Once it was triggered, even ten cattle would not be able to budge him.

Xiao Bei rolled up his cuffs and illuminated the surroundings with his phone. He tried to roughly memorize his surroundings, including the tunnel up ahead before keeping the phone in his pocket to avoid overusing it and wasting the remaining two cells of battery. He indeed had a power bank, but who knew what laid ahead in the future? Thinking as such, he aimed to minimize the usage.

Xiao Bei felt his way towards the entrance of the tunnel. In the tunnel, there seemed to be a faint reddish light – akin to a firefly in the middle of the night.

It looked like there was some kind of lighting here…a torch perhaps? Xiao Bei was overjoyed.

Sure enough, further in the tunnel, a half burning torch was inserted on the wall of the tunnel. It looked like that torch had been burning for quite some time. With the rate of the torch being burnt, in the next ten minutes, the oil on the top section would completely be burnt out.

Xiao Bei pulled out a torch and held it in his hand. The ground was made from an old-fashioned bluestone, assuring that it was man-made. However, what kind of person would dig a tunnel here? He guessed that if this place was not the tomb Qiu Yu mentioned, then it would be a place to store goods. There was also a chance that it was an air-raid shelter. In China, such places were common as they played a huge role during the warring days. Though these places had been abandoned, using them as a warehouse could also be said as making full use them.

Suddenly, Xiao Bei stepped on something. He looked down. On seeing the thing on the ground, his heart felt as if he had toppled a five flavor cruet, making him unsure whether to laugh or cry.

In front of Xiao Bei, between the space of five to six meters, the ground was covered with steel bolts, long as an arm and the gap between each bolt imbedded into the ground was roughly around a forefinger apart. Xiao Bei leaned against the wall and slowly made his way. He could feel the unevenness of the wall from his fingertips, telling him that there were many holes in it.

It very obvious what this was. He had indeed fallen into a tomb, and the hole he fell through was the one dug up by grave robbers.

The holes in the wall had confirmed many things. The mechanism must have been triggered when the grave robber was passing through here. In the tomb, this type of mechanism was the most common and normal ones. They were also clearly described in books. Once someone stepped on a particular spot, it would affect the sand within the walls. When building the tomb, many particular spots were dug empty and a bluestone was inserted into those openings, above the baffle. When someone stepped on a particular spot, the baffle would fail and the sand in the wall would collapse, flowing into the empty space that was created before. Once the mechanism loses the pressure exerted from the sand, it would immediately release countless of sharp bolts, shooting those trespassers to death.

As Xiao Bei did not know whether all the mechanisms had been triggered, he carefully picked up a bolt and threw it far away. It produced a rattle: dīngdāng. It seemed like the distance ahead was quite safe. “Since someone had dug a hole and arrived here, then won’t there be a chance that I will encounter that someone? It would be better for me to be a little bit more cautious.” This was what Xiao Bei thought. His hand did not stop, and one by one, he picked up those bolts that were on the ground. Now in his right hand was around ten plus bolts while in his left hand, he tightly held an extremely sharp one to act as his weapon for self-protection

On one of the bolts, he noticed a slightly brownish bloodstain. Someone had been hit. That person might either be injured or already dead and the corpse must have been carried away by his companions. Who knew whether those grave robbers that were rich in experience had any methods to avoid the tomb’s mechanism, by passing through those mechanisms without triggering them. However, Qiu Yu’s group was different. If by chance they were like him, accidentally falling inside and passing through an unactivated mechanism, wouldn’t that be considered a devastating disaster to them?!

“Yí? What’s this?” Xiao Bei, who was bending slightly to the side and was walking slowly, suddenly felt that on the surface of the wall, there was a dent and in it was a shiny dot. What was it?

Using the torch to illuminate that area, Xiao Bei used the front part of the bolt as a digging tool to create a two finger wide little hole. Xiao Bei dug; carefully.

This was Xiao Bei’s line of thought: What if it is something good? This is a tomb and quietly taking a small thing or two can be counted as fishing out something from here, right? I can’t come here and gain nothing. Yes, it should be like this!

Xiao Bei narrowed his eyes which now contained the craftiness of a person from the society as if he had once again gone back to the moment when he was bargaining with the stall aunties.

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“Damn it!”

The hard and solid wall could not match up with Xiao Bei enthusiasm. As he dug, that item remained sandwiched inside the wooden boards. When Xiao Bei finally saw what that thing was, he cursed in his heart. Xiao Bei lunged to the side, and crouched on the ground, not daring to move.

Sōu sōu sōu!

A series of “whistling winds” could be heard and they flew over Xiao Bei’s head. Three bolts “duó duó duó”, all nailed into the opposite wall.

From then on, Xiao Bei dared not ever muster any greed for small advantages. He could only crouch there unmoving as he was afraid that this tomb’s mechanism might send him to report to Yama, King of Hell.

His clothes were already drenched in cold sweat, sticking to him like glue; he felt uncomfortable. After a very long time, when nothing more shot out, Xiao Bei timidly got on his feet. “Damn, they were bolts that did not launch as the mechanism was stuck.  Lǎo zǐ…thought it was some treasure and it nearly sends me to meet Mao Ze Dong!” Though on his mouth hung words of indifference, he dared not keep upright, continuing to slowly and carefully move forward like some hunchback. Who knew what the God had planned for him?

[TLN: Mao Ze Dong: A Chinese communist revolutionary and founding father of the People’s Republic of China: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong]

“What kind of stuff is this ah, the quality is so bad. It seems like science and technology from the past really cannot make it. I really wonder whether the Zhu Ge Lian crossbow had ever jammed before!” In Xiao Bei’s mind, he was disillusioning a scene during the ancient warring times where a large group of crossbowmen, squatting down and pulled the trigger. It would be an absurd scene.

In fact, the mechanisms in the tomb were wrongly accused by Xiao Bei. The paints on the walls of the tomb already had slight cracks. At the very least, it should have a history that was nearly a thousand years, so no matter how great their quality was, they were made of wood and hence things would have rotted. The rotting wood would cause sand to not be able to sink and thus jamming the crossbows, making it inevitable for them to not be able to fire.

Besides, who will place funerary objects in the wall with those crossbows, ah? This was Xiao Bei’s first time entering into the tomb so he thought that he might come across some treasures for every two steps he took, and so, forgetting his common sense.

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Now, he had finally learned to not fantasize about picking up treasures but to be vigilant of his surroundings, even the walls he dared not use it as a support. Though money was important, there would not be any point in spending it if you weren’t alive. It was not worth it to end one’s life just for small advantages before fully finish enjoying what you had. This was something Xiao Bei understood quite clearly.

Going along the tunnel for around fifty to sixty meters, the tunnel split into three ways. All three passageways were pitch black; who knew whether there would be any traps. He heard before that in the past, people liked these kinds of things. They would create a number of passages and only one was correct. The correct one would lead to the main burial chamber while the rest were dead ends and in there might contain numerous mechanisms that could be concealed, waiting for those unlucky people to take the hook.

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